While this book started off kind of slowly, it does eventually pick up and get pretty darn interesting. The story begins with the last of the nomes making a desperate play to try and leave their lives behind because they’re in danger of going extinct. The lack of nomes doesn’t leave them with enough “manpower” to hunt or keep predators away. They end up at a department store and discover that thousands of nomes live there.
At that point the plotting picks up and the story becomes a satire of blindly following religion in the face of opposing proof, a satire of politics, and a fish out of water story. There are lots of cute jokes around what the nomes have interpreted about human culture since they’re unable to understand humans. If you remember Disney’s The Little Mermaid – think about the way Scuttle describes the human artifacts to Ariel.
The book eventually drops its plot twist: (view spoiler)[nomes used to be an incredibly advanced and space-faring race and kick-starated human technology to try and get back to space after they crash-landed on Earth. But over the thousands of years they lost knowledge of all that. (hide spoiler)].
I didn’t find it as funny or well-plotted as his Discworld books, but it was only his second attempt at a YA book. And Nation was awesome, if not comical at all.
Give it a shot if you’re a Pratchett completionist. I think it eventually redeems itself, but I wouldn’t recommend that you go out of your way to read it.